Friday, May 02, 2008

Annual Tribute Luncheon

I’m proud of the Durham Annual Tribute Luncheon and DCVB’s role in innovating the concept and event. I always have second thoughts when I see how much it takes out of staff who are already stretched just marketing Durham, but when it is finished each year, it is clear there is no more important and worthwhile event.

But there is no way DCVB could pull off an event of this quality without our partners. They are also true believers in Durham and prove it with their dedication and financial resources.

First of all, while DCVB does some of the heavy-lifting, we couldn’t do it without our partner The Special Event Company as pro bono co-producer. Sally Webb is one of the best, and we’re so lucky Durham is the company’s East Coast home. (They have offices in London, LA and Durham.)

Next, it wouldn’t be possible without the sponsors this year--many of them repeat sponsors like Duke University Health System, The Sarah P. Duke Gardens, U.S. FoodService, SunTrust and American Airlines--which make it possible for DCVB to dedicate the proceeds of the event to Durham Careers In Hospitality, an award-winning partnership of DCVB and Durham Public Schools to educate and encourage tomorrow’s hospitality workforce.

Former Mayor and State Senator Wib Gulley is perfect as the emcee. He’s a member of the Tourism Development Authority, but that’s not why he’s emcee. Durham launched DCVB and its first community marketing effort during his tenure.

There really isn’t a more appropriate organization than DCVB to sponsor the event that celebrates Durham’s sense of place. It doesn’t serve as an annual luncheon or meeting, nor is it all about visitors or visitor promotion. It is about Durham and reminding all of us why it is such a special place.

We were all disappointed that the actors for Bull Durham couldn’t come. Mike Fitzgerald in Thom Mount’s office helped them battle through obstacles for almost a year, and right up to a week prior to the event, it looked like we’d be able to have at least one attend.

In the end, we were done in by the Hollywood writer’s strike. Apparently another strike by another group is pending, so everyone is rushing to get multi-million dollar productions completed in this brief window.

That’s all the more reason it is extremely special that Thom, who is Chairman and CEO of Reliant Pictures, was able to attend. He produced Bull Durham. And with him was the man who created and directed the film, Ron Shelton.

All in all, it helped us honor the 20th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham in style… nearly 700 people, sitting for a phenomenal luncheon on Coach K Court at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

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